Second Chance (38 Special song)

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"Second Chance"
Single by 38 Special
from the album Rock & Roll Strategy
B-side "Comin' Down Tonight"
Released February 11, 1989 (1989-02-11)
Format 7" single, CD
Genre Southern rock, soft rock
Length 4:33 (single version)
5:04 (album version)
Label A&M
Writer(s) Max Carl, Jeff Carlisi, Cal Curtis
Producer(s) Rodney Mills
38 Special singles chronology
"Rock & Roll Strategy"
"Second Chance"
"Comin' Down Tonight"

"Second Chance" is a song by American rock band 38 Special, from their eighth studio album, 1988's Rock & Roll Strategy. Written by keyboardist Max Carl, guitarist Jeff Carlisi and Cal Curtis, the rock ballad was released as the album's second single in 1989 and became the band's highest-charting song in the United States.

Background and composition[edit]

"Second Chance" began as a song written by Jeff Carlisi and Cal Curtis in 1983 entitled "I Never Wanted Anyone Else But You," which was only recorded as a demo; according to Carlisi, 38 Special's original frontman Don Barnes didn't wish the band to record the song: "[he] didn't feel [it] was really a 38 [Special] song."[1] When Max Carl replaced Don Barnes in 38 Special in 1988, Carlisi played the demo of "I Never Wanted Anyone Else But You" for Carl who remarked that "the guy in the song sounded like a real jerk"; Carlisi's reply: "yeah, but a lot of people have been through this and want forgiveness" prompted Carl's response: "yeah, maybe the guy needs a second chance" leading to the song's being reworked with the new lyric: "A heart needs a second chance" as its main hook line. Carlisi would state: "I think lyrically what [original lyricist] Cal [Curtis] sketched out was brilliant, but the real thing that touches people is that one simple phrase 'a heart needs a second chance.' No one had said it like that before and that’s what makes a great song[2]...[Carl] really brought it home and had such a marvelous voice. I mean, the guy could sing 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and you'd go buy it, he was so good. He really sold that song."[3] [4]

Release and reception[edit]

"Second Chance" entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at number 78 in February 1989.[5] The song was the highest-charting Hot 100 single of the band's career,[6] as it peaked at #6 in May 1989 and spent 21 weeks on the chart.[5] The song reached #5 on the Singles Sales chart and #9 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.[7] It also peaked at #2 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and became the band's first #1 single on the Adult Contemporary chart.[6] It was Billboard magazine's "Adult Contemporary Song of the Year" for 1989.[3] The single peaked at #2 in Canada[8] and #14 in Australia, where it spent 12 weeks on the chart.[9]

Despite "Second Chance"'s affording 38 Special an apparent breakthrough hit, it was not enough to improve the lackluster sales of Rock & Roll Strategy and A&M Records did not renew the band's contract.[3] The group's next album, Bone Against Steel, was released on Charisma Records in 1991.[3]

Although "Second Chance" would remain 38 Special's career record, Carlisi stated in 2009: "To this day when the name 38 Special comes up nobody says 'Second Chance'! It was our biggest hit but people always think of 'Hold On Loosely' or 'Caught Up in You' first."[1]

Other versions[edit]

Jamaican reggae singer Dennis Brown's version of the song appears on various 1990s dancehall compilation albums.[10] Tongan-American Jawaiian trio Kontiki covered the song on their 2008 album Free Again.[11]

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl, CD single
  1. "Second Chance" (Carl, Carlisi, Curtis) - 4:33
  2. "Comin' Down Tonight" (Carl, Carlisi, Johnson, Van Zant) - 4:25

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[5] 6
U.S. Adult Contemporary[5] 1
U.S. Mainstream Rock[6] 2
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[9] 14
Canadian Singles Chart[8] 2


  1. ^ a b Carlisi/ Lipson/ Busbee, (Jeff/ Dan/ Jay) (2009). Jam! Amp Your Team, Rock Your Business. San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 162–3. ISBN 978-0-470-44652-2. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d Brant, Marley (1999). Southern Rockers: The Roots and Legacy of Southern Rock. New York: Billboard Books. pp. 238–9. ISBN 978-0-8230-8420-3. 
  4. ^ "Talk Today - The Van Zants". USA Today. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  5. ^ a b c d "'Second Chance' - Chart history". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  6. ^ a b c "38 Special - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 629. ISBN 978-0-8230-7499-0. 
  8. ^ a b "RPM 100 Singles". RPM (RPM Music Publications Ltd.) 50 (3). 1989-05-15. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  9. ^ a b "38 Special - 'Second Chance'". Ultratop. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  10. ^ "'Second Chance' - Dennis Brown". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  11. ^ "Free Again - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2009-12-13. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"After All" by Cher & Peter Cetera
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
May 20, 1989 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Miss You Like Crazy" by Natalie Cole